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What Seniors Should Be Doing Now

If you are about to be a senior in high school, welcome to the arena of college applications. This is a competitive game, and it can be overwhelming to most 17-year-olds. Don’t worry. Here is a list of things to tackle right now.

  1. Brainstorm and draft your Personal Statement (the 650-word essay colleges will receive). The Personal Statement can be the most daunting task of them all. Develop a topic to convey your values, unique stories, and growth. If you can work with a college coach on this, even better (we are experts at finding stories that can increase your chance of admission).
  2. Start the Common App. Every year, the Common App updates on August 1. Over 900 schools use the Common App, which provides a centralized application for you to add schools and apply. First, you’ll want to create an account. Next, navigate to the “College Search” tab on the website and type in each college you are applying to. Each college will appear on your “Dashboard” or “My Colleges” tab. You can navigate to each school and see important deadlines, admissions contact information, and supplemental essays. Click on the “Common App” tab to start filling out your profile, family and school information, testing, activities, and writing sections.
  3. Start your Supplemental Essays. Many colleges require an additional essay or few, also known as supplemental essays. To find these essays, you can either research each college individually online, or navigate on the Common App “My Colleges” to the corresponding school and scroll down to the “Writing Requirements.” College supplemental essays are often found under the “College Questions” section, so check out all the information each school requires. When writing your supplemental essays, try to convey another part of yourself that is not in your Personal Statement.
  4. Finish your Activities List. The Activities List is a crucial component of the college application, highlighting activities and hobbies you enjoy participating in outside of the classroom. The Common App only allows 150 characters (not words) for the description, so lead with a strong verb rather than writing full sentences. Another tip is to convey your impact whenever possible. How much money did you fundraise? How many students did you recruit? How many championships did you win?
  5. Visit colleges. In the last moments of summer, you probably don’t want to go visit colleges in your free time. It is so important if you do not know where you want to go, to get out there and explore. I advise students to look at a small, medium, and large sized school for comparison. Schedule some college visits, and see if you can schedule an interview too. While college interviews seem intimidating, they can convey that you are interested in the school (which is a good thing). To prepare for a college interview, practice speaking about yourself in front of the mirror. Anticipate for questions like “What is your favorite book?” and “Who would you have dinner with if you could?” Some schools love to ask fun questions like this to get a feel for their prospective students.